One of the saddest conversations I have ever had in my life took place today.
As I came in to the complex where I live, one of my older neighbours was kind of stuck on the steps. I asked him if he was ok, and then we began a very long conversation. It turns out that No, he is far from ok.
Without going into too many details, this older man is getting sick. He is from the US and is here alone. He has been here 7 years and the only friends he has are other older men, who sit on the beach drinking each day. Their conversation is almost exclusively focused on the Girls that they pay for sex and the Dates that they take them on. (Sosua is one of the top 5 sex tourism destinations in the world, although, thankfully, this is changing!)
My neighbour is no longer a welcome part of their group as he has no more stories to share, as he is too sick to go on Dates now. The guys that he has been hanging around with for 7 years have dropped him and are not prepared to help him. They have told him that he is a burden and they are sick of him.
He doesnt have family.
He doesnt have church. He doesnt have God. He is literally alone. He cried several times during the conversation. I tried to help him problem solve some of the difficulties he is facing, and I will do what I can to help him. I dont think I have ever seen someone so desperate.
It has led me to think about relationships. What my friendships are based on, what I would be prepared to do for those around me, what would be too hard - for this guy, his friends seem far from being true friends. I know that there are 2 sides to every story, and I dont mean this in judgement of them - but if your social world is built on sin and damaging other people it is fairly unlikely that you will find big-hearted friends there. People who gather to discuss their conquests of women living in poverty are probably unlikely to be the selfless support that you might one day need.
I also find it terribly sad that for the last 7 years that is all that my neighbour has been focusing on. That in a country surrounded by poverty and people needing opportunities, that he hasnt ever gone beyond his own wants and desires and stepped out to help others. It is all just very sad.
I know I always say this, but Jesus told us that the important things in life were to love God and to love those around us. That if we learn to love others we will expereience His JOY. That is what so many people seem to be seeking after, happiness and acceptance and joy. Sadly for so many of us, we look in the wrong places. We think loneliness can be cured by sex, or alcohol or any number of things. We are created to love and to be in community with others and with God.
But its not all over for my neighbour. He needs help - in almost every way imaginable. Physical, emotional and spiritual. I have no idea what the long term looks like for him. There are no elderly care homes here for him to go too.... and he refuses to go back to the States.
The decisions that we make, about how to spend our time, who to spend it with, and what we invest our lives, our minds and our money in - they are important decisions. Important for today and for eternity. It does matter. Take it seriously.
Living here is a funny old thing really. You spend your days working with Haitian and Dominican people, and you spend your evenings with people from Canada, the States, Europe.... its a mixed up little community of people! Im off to my church prayer meeting now - I will be praying for my neighbour, and for wisdom for him, compassion from his friends and for wisdom for those of us around him who are wanting to love him in the way God calls us too - but who -if IM honest- are also slightly nervous to get involved!
Sorry this isnt my usual chipper tale of wonders, but this is the reality of life too....